BLACKSBURG -- Before he takes its sweet sap, Britt Boucher gives the maple tree some sugar.
"Just sit the bucket on the tree, kiss the tree and thank it for its sugar," Boucher said as he smooched and patted a towering sugar maple in a snow-covered grove.
Boucher is no ordinary tree-hugger -- or kisser, for that matter. The Blacksburg-based forester spent much of February and March tapping about a half-dozen sugar maples on a Montgomery County farm to collect the lifeblood sap and convert it into pure, sweet, maple syrup.
Maple-tapping is not common in these parts, which is one reason why Boucher wanted to try it. Another reason is because the store-bought stuff is too darn expensive. One gallon of pure maple syrup sells for more than $115 at a Blacksburg health foods store where Boucher and his wife shop. That's more than double the price of a barrel of oil.